The citizen can bring our political and governmental
institutions back to life, make them responsive and accountable,
and keep them honest. No one else can.
~ author John Gardner.
“The citizen can bring our political and governmental institutions back to life, make them responsive and accountable, and keep them honest. No one else can.”
~ author John Gardner.
One local Gilroy “Crusader” who is actively trying to stir-up some “life” in Gilroy city hall when it comes to doing something specific to fight blight in Gilroy is Jack Greer. Jack and his wife were the folks who worked long and hard to get the Gilroy City Council to adapt a local blight ordinance for residential Gilroy property, that in theory, has some teeth in it to take the “bite” out of the negative effect trashy properties have upon neighboring properties. Before this ordinance was passed, the city’s ability to do something was rather like a toothless tiger.
But even with the blight ordinance in place, the wheels of local government bureaucracy seem to refuse to get in gear for getting things accomplished as Mr. Greer can testify.
For example he writes, “Since December, I have been discussing the (Ronan Avenue) blight problem with a Mr. “B” a city employee (who is suppose to be handling residential blight issues). He would never return my calls. I would always have to call him back (and finally) I received more excuses than action plans, such as: short personnel; process very expensive and time consuming; city representative needs to go before a judge to issue a citation; the county and not the city gets the proceeds from the fine.” These replies certainly seem to me to be less than responsive and accountable, and it’s no wonder that the average citizen can become very frustrated with local government’s movement towards inertia.
When Mr. Greer suggested it would be more time efficient for a duly authorized city employee to be able to issue an administrative citation right on the spot where the property in question clearly violates the blight ordinance, more excuses were the rule rather than the exception. For example, Mr. “B” said he needed to meet with the city attorney, and he also needed to take into consideration the owner or the renter’s personal situation, such as their physical or financial ability to correct the problem.
The frustration goes even further with Mr. “B’s” response as Mr. Greer relates it: “He even went as far as to say that those [trashy properties] were there when I bought my home (on Ronan Avenue) knowing what the street looked like.” Now that’s hardly a valid defense on Mr. “B’s” part, considering that the blight law is suppose to deal with possible offenders, not with people who want to see the law enforced. Mr. Greer indicated that he would be willing to coordinate a community effort to help cleanup these blighted Ronan Avenue properties if the residents were financially strapped or physically unable to cleanup their property. Since he indicated he’s received no response from the community via a Feb. 12 Red Phone column, I will repeat his contact information: call 408-504-8941 if you would be interested in helping.
On the other side of the Gilroy blight coin regarding trashy properties, at least one city employee is trying to get something done – Community Services Officer Gary Muraoka. He sent me the following message: “I have been receiving some voicemails from some people but they do not leave me their name or how to contact them back. Can you let people know if they want to send in a complaint to please send me a letter at the Police Department. Their name will not be released and we only start cases on a complaint basis. There are multiple households I would like to take on as a blight cases but until I get a complaint I cannot go hunting for them. If I get the complaint and they want to know the status as it progresses, all they have to do is ask.”
Attn: Muraoka – Blight
Gilroy Police Department
7370 Rosanna St.
Gilroy, CA 95020
People must realize that any complaint must contain the name of the party making the complaint along with a phone number to contact them if questions arise. So let’s hope that between Jack and Gary (a new dynamic duo?), we’ll see cleanup results with the trashy Ronan Avenue properties – soon.